• Melissa Laity

Emerge into Spring: 8 Ways to Prepare for Spring Allergies

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Nothing about 2020 has been ordinary. We have not gone about our everyday lives as normal since March. While we have been watching through the windows, we have seen seasons change. Many of us have felt disconnected from nature, unable to immerse ourselves in the best of what the season has to offer. As we approach the end of August, we are on the cusp of another change of seasons.

In Melbourne it is with relief for many of us to see signs of spring already appearing. We hope that, just as nature begins to reawaken and buds begin to open, the spring will allow us to re-emerge from our homes and safely turn our faces to the sun.

The arrival of spring with its warmer days and brightly coloured, wonderful smelling flowers is a welcomed, uplifting moment for many of us, but for some people the change of season heralds the arrival of dreaded seasonal allergies.

Allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, affects approximately 18% of the Australian population. It is an immune system reaction to an otherwise harmless, environmental substance such as pollen from trees, grasses, shrubs or weeds, fungi or moulds, house dust-mite or animal dander (skin cells and fur).

When exposed to one or more of these environmental allergens, the immune system mistakenly responds by producing antibodies. These antibodies cause the release of histamine from the Mast Cells. Histamine stimulates nerve endings and produces the familiar hay fever symptoms- watery eyes, itching and sneezing- in an attempt to expel the irritants from the body.

So really, while your immune system is a little confused about what substances actually cause harm, it produces those aggravating, exasperating symptoms in an attempt to protect you.

The good news is, that if you act now, you may be able to reduce the impact and severity of hay fever symptoms.

These 8 diet and lifestyle suggestions can help you prepare for spring…

1. Reduce high histamine foods: these are foods that may cause histamine to be released in the body.

High histamine foods include: alcohol, fermented foods, citrus fruits, peanuts, processed meats, chocolate & caffeine.

2. Include Vitamin C-rich foods: Vitamin C helps to stabilise Mast Cells and inhibit histamine release.

Foods high in vitamin C include: red capsicum, berries, brussel sprouts, green leafy vegetables, tomato, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower

3. Include Quercetin-rich foods: Quercetin is nature’s anti-histamine.

It is an antioxidant-rich flavonoid that is found in apples, berries, grapes, Brassica vegetables, capers, onions, black and green tea, and many seeds, nuts and flowers.

4. Build a strong Microbiome: around 70% of our immune cells are found in the gastrointestinal tract. A healthy bacterial population can reduce reactivity to seasonal allergens and reduce allergic symptoms.

Probiotic- rich fermented foods are traditionally used to populate a healthy gut microbiome, however they are high in histamines. When trying to reduce histamine, healthy gut bacteria may be supported to grow and flourish by including prebiotic foods in the diet.

Prebiotic foods include: garlic, leek, onion, asparagus, artichoke & dandelion greens.

5. Reduce Inflammation: inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages occurs as a result of the immune response to environmental allergens.

Reduce inflammatory foods: refined carbohydrates, sugar, food additives, vegetable and seed oils, trans fats, alcohol & processed meats.

Increase anti-inflammatory foods: Omega 3 rich foods (walnuts, hempseeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds & oily cold water fish), olive oil, avocado, turmeric and plenty of fresh fruit, berries and vegetables.

6. Nasal irrigation: rinsing the sinuses with a saline solution helps to reduce inflammation and clear out the allergens or irritants that have been trapped in the mucus.

A neti-pot is a small teapot shaped container that is used to pour saline solution into the one nostril to flush out the other. Always use boiled and cooled, or filtered water for nasal irrigation.

7. Masks and sunglasses: masks and sunglasses offer a physical barrier to reduce the amount of environmental allergens that can come in contact with the eyes or be inhaled through the nose or mouth (of course with the current health crisis, a face mask may already a part of your wardrobe).

8. Check pollen updates: during pollen season, check the local pollen count before leaving the house to help you decide whether you might need to grab those sunglasses or a mask, or even have a day indoors. In Australia, you can check the daily pollen count at www.pollenforecast.com.au. If you are in Melbourne, www.melbournepollen.com.au, which also has a Melbourne Pollen Count mobile app.

If you are dreading the spring because you struggle with hay fever and allergies, book in for a free Discovery Call to find out how I may be able to help, so that you may embrace the new season and make the most of the warmer weather.

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